The Red Sox and Dodgers are “deep into talks” about a deal involving 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Olney reports that the two sides have talked about possible trade combinations for Betts with and without also including former Cy Young Award winner David Price.
The 27-year-old Betts will be eligible for free agency after the 2020 season and the Red Sox have yet to sign their star outfielder to a long-term deal.
On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci reported the difficulty some teams are having in evaluating the long term value of Betts, “whose historical uniqueness is astonishing.”
“At least one team recently undertook just such an internal study of Betts,” Verducci reported. “Nothing relevant came back. Betts is a terrific baserunner, a defensive wizard and a rock of dependability… At this age, Betts is the greatest small power hitter since Mel Ott, who was born in 1909.”
Betts’ projected performance at his $27 million salary for 2020 is one of the main reasons why teams would be willing to part ways with prospects in exchange for just one year of Betts, according to Verducci.
“Mookie Betts is one of the five best players in the game,” an assistant GM told Verducci . “When you have an opportunity to add a star player for one year, any team could use that kind of player… This is the kind of player you rarely get to acquire. He’s why you consider trading prospects.”
The Dodgers feature an attractive range of young players, including outfielder Alex Verdugo, infielder Gavin Lux and pitcher Dustin May. Los Angeles, however, isn’t the only NL West team that seems interested in acquiring Betts.
Earlier this week, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres are “willing to send two young major leaguers and at least one prospect” to Boston with outfielder Wil Myers in exchange for Betts. In order for the Friars to take on Betts’ $27 million salary for a one-year rental, the club wants the Red Sox to “come up significantly in the portion of Myers’ contract they are willing to pay.”
Multiple people within the Padres organization told the Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee that acquiring Betts is “only marginally possible” due to the Dodgers’ interest in the outfielder and the struggles over Myers’s contract with the Red Sox. While Betts could walk away after one season, he would drastically improve the Padres’ chances of making their first postseason since 2006.
The Dodgers, however, seem as if they in a better position to take on Betts’s salary and have a deep farm system of high-level prospects to possibly trade.
Rival executives think it’s inevitable that the team will trade Betts before the July 31 deadline, according to Olney. However, it’s less certain that a deal will get done before the start of the regular season.
“I think it’s probably not going to happen, just because most deals this big don’t get done,” the same assistant GM told Verducci. “And Boston doesn’t have to move him. They can wait until July if they don’t get what they want.”
Betts finished last season hitting .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs and 80 RBI. He was named American League MVP in 2018 after leading Major League Baseball with a .346 batting average and 129 runs.